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Further lack of harmony between EMI and top acts

December 19, 2007

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The relationship between EMI and some of its leading artists soured further yesterday as the record label suggested Robbie Williams’s potential departure would not be a great loss, and a source close to artist Joss Stone said the 20-year-old had become “disillusioned” with the company.

The record label, recently bought by Guy Hands’s Terra Firma private equity company, played down the significance of Williams’s possible departure, saying he represented a tiny percentage of worldwide revenues, as the singer considers his future with the label.

Mr Williams signed a record £80 million deal with EMI in 2002 to produce four albums for the company.

“Robbie Williams is clearly an important artist but only represented in his best year less than 1 per cent of the worldwide revenues of EMI,” EMI said in a statement to The Times.

A source close to Joss Stone said the singer, who resigned with EMI earlier this year in a long-term deal, has more recently had concerns about Terra Firma’s commitment to music and the private equity group’s long-term investment in the business.

Joss Stone and her spokesman were unavailable for comment yesterday.

Some industry sources have raised concern that private equity investments are rarely for more than five or six years, although Terra Firma has said its investments are often for longer periods than this.

Tim Clark, Williams’s manager, said that the artist may leave the record label after he completes the final studio album of his contract for the company, which could come as early as 2009.

“While record companies used to provide finance, manufacturing and distribution, in today’s digital music market artists just need finance to fund marketing costs,” Mr Clark said.

“There is no need to go to a major record label to fund purely marketing costs, especially now the internet has reduced marketing costs dramatically.”

Williams, who has been with the company for a decade, has been one of EMI’s most successful artists in Britain, but has been unable to break into the lucrative American market.

by Amanda Andrews, Times Online

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